TRUCKEE, CALIF. (July 28, 2011) - Taylor Travis of Fremont, Calif., the last player to get into the 84-person field, fired a 3-under-par 69 today to grab a three-shot lead over three players heading into tomorrow's final round of the 45th Pacific Coast Amateur Championship at Martis Camp Club near Lake Tahoe.
Travis, 21, a rising junior at the University of San Francisco, (and longtime amateurgolf.com member and Tournament Series standout) is at 8-under-par 208 for 54 holes. He leads Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho, Mitchell Evanecz of Red Deer, Alberta, and Derek Ernst of Clovis, Calif., who finished three rounds at 211, 5 under par.
The 20-year-old Williams, who won the Sahalee Players Championship earlier this month, broke the two-day-old course record with 6-under-par 66 over the scenic and challenging Tom Fazio-designed layout. Evanecz, who shared the first-round lead with Ernst after each shot 67, had a 2-under-par 70 today, while Ernst struggled to his second consecutive round of even-par 72.
UCLA student Anton Arboleda of La Canada, Calif. and 2009 California Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez of Diablo, Calif. are tied for fifth at 4-under-par 210. Arboleda shot 69 today, while Gonzalez posted 70.
Travis, who won the 2011 West Coast Conference championship, acknowledged that he's getting more accustomed to the 6,300-foot altitude and the course. He played steady golf throughout the day, making four birdies against a single bogey. He birdied the par-4 second hole to take a 1-up lead over Ernst, gave it back immediately with a bogey 4 on the third hole, then finished with three birdies and 12 pars over his final 15 holes.
"I made a lot of good up-and-downs for pars," admitted Travis after his round and pointed to the 10th hole as a key to his round. After reaching the green of the 642-yard, par 5 in two shots, he had to make a five-foot putt for par. He went on to birdie the 14th and 15th holes and then finished by scrambling for a par 4 on the 504-yard finishing hole when he got up and down from 60 yards after hitting his drive into a deep fairway bunker.
Williams, who will be a junior this fall at the University of Washington, began the day tied for 16th but zoomed up the leaderboard with his record round. He posted eight birdies and two bogies and closed with a flourish with birdies on holes 14-17. "I hit it really well today and the score could have been lower," said Williams, "because I missed putts of three or four feet on three holes. These are really tough greens to read and I finally got a bunch of 10-footers to drop today, which hadn't happened in the first two rounds."
Williams, who played in the U.S. Open and the Palmer Cup in June and won the NCAA's Phil Mickelson Award winner as the nation's top freshman golfer in 2010, knows he has a chance to be selected to this year's U.S. Walker Cup team. "I really think I'm on the outside of the bubble," said Williams, "but a lot can happen in the next couple of weeks. I have to play really well here and then at the Western Amateur in Chicago and we'll see what happens after that."
Ernst, a 21-year-old UNLV senior-to-be who was runner-up in the U.S. Amateur Public Links earlier this month, was frustrated after his round, which included one birdie, 16 pars and a bogey on the final hole. "I felt like I had a great warm up and I thought I was ready to go really low," he said after his round, "It just didn't happen. I had lots of looks and missed five putts of 12 feet or less."
Evanecz, a 25-year-old recent graduate of the University of Victoria, had a mixed round with five birdies and three bogies. He is bidding to join Albertans Michael Knight, who won the 2008 Pacific Coast Amateur, and Jordan Irwin who captured the 2009 title.
Martis Camp Club, (7,766 yards, par 72) played somewhat easier today. The average score was 74.807 today vs. 75.940 yesterday and 16 players shot under par today vs. 10 yesterday.